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This is Ian Ozsvald's blog (@IanOzsvald), I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, founder of the Annotate.io social media mining API, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, co-founder of the SocialTies App, author of the A.I.Cookbook, author of The Screencasting Handbook, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and FivePoundApps and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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21 May 2010 - 14:44Headroid1 – a face tracking robot head

The video below introduces Headroid1, this face-tracking robot will grow into a larger system that can follow people’s faces, detect emotions and react to engage with the visitor.

The above system uses openCV’s face detection (using the Python bindings and facedetect.py) to figure out whether the face is in the centre of the screen, if the camera needs to move it then talks via pySerial to BotBuilder‘s ServoBoard to pan or tilt the camera until the face is back in the centre of the screen.

Update – see Building A Face Tracking Robot In An Afternoon for full details to build your own Headroid1.

Headroid is pretty good at tracking faces as long as there’s no glare, he can see people from 1 foot up to about 8 feet from the camera. He moves at different speeds depending on your distance from the centre of the screen and stops with a stable picture when you’re back at the centre of his attention. The smile/frown detector which will follow will add another layer of behaviour.

Heather (founder of Silicon Beach Training) used Headroid1 (called Robocam in her video) at Likemind coffee this morning, she’s written up the event:

Andy White (@doctorpod) also did a quick 2 minute MP3 interview with me via audioboo.

Later over coffee Danny Hope and I discussed (with Headroid looking on) some ideas for tracking people, watching for attention, monitoring for frustration and concentration and generally playing with ways people might interact with this little chap:

The above was built in collaboration with BuildBrighton, there’s some discussion about it in this thread. The camera is a Philips SPC900NC which works using macam on my Mac (and runs on Linux and Win too). The ServoBoard has a super-simple interface – you send it commands like ’90a’ (turn servo A to 90 degress) as text and ‘it just works’ – it makes interactive testing a doddle.

Update – the blog for the A.I. Cookbook is now active, more A.I. and robot updates will occur there.

Reference material:

The following should help you move forwards:


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

9 Comments | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, Python